How do parents and families benefit when their child(ren) with autism participate in an early motor skill intervention?


Background:Motor skill interventions have been shown to improve the motor skill proficiency of children with autism, however the secondary effects associated with them are not well understood- both for the children and their family members. The purpose of this study was to examine parents' perspectives on the secondary effects of an early motor skill intervention for their children with autism. Methods:Parents of four year-olds with autism who completed a 12-week fundamental motor skill intervention- where motor skill proficiency was measured pre- and post-test using the Test of Gross Motor Development-2 -, were invited to participate in a one-time-only interview session (N=8). A semi-structured interviewing technique was employed and data analysis was grounded in interpretive phenomenology. Results:The mean Gross Motor Quotient among the children (n=9) was 78.67 + 17.13 pre-test and 94.67 + 14.45 post-test; showing a 20% increase in motor skill proficiency on average. Parents identified several secondary effects of the intervention during their interviews. Theme 1:Awareness and Engagement(parents developed an understanding/appreciation for the importance of motor skills for child development and began engaging their families in more active play). Theme 2:Increased Outings and Decreased Feelings of Isolation(a combination of secondary effects allowed parents to feel more comfortable going places with their children). Theme 3:Witnessing Success and Changing Perspectives (witnessing their children succeed during the intervention, positively influenced parents' perceptions of their children, and their future). Conclusions:These findings suggest that parents and families can also benefit from the experience of an early motor skill intervention for their child(ren) with autism.